Prof. Abdulazeez Lawal of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management of University of Ilorin (Unilorin) has submitted that removal of fuel subsidy and floating of the exchange rate has made many Nigerians face difficulty accessing food items.
Lawal stated this in his paper presentation in Ilorin at the 244th Inaugural Lecture of University entitled: “Making Ends Meet With Food Security”.
He quoted the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics as revealing that the consumer price index rose from 22.22 per cent to 24.41 percent between April and May 2023.
“Food inflation rate rose from 24.61 percent in April to 24.82 per cent in May 2023. When compared to, on a year-on-year basis, this was 5.33 per cent point higher than 19.5 per cent recorded in May, 2022,” he said.
The don, who teaches in the Faculty of Agriculture of Unilorin, observed that an estimated 17 million people were at risk of food insecurity in October 2022.
He stated that unless urgent actions are taken to address the continuing conflict, climate change, inflation and rising food prices, Nigeria would remain among the highest level countries facing acute food insecurity.
Lawal postulated that one of the vital components of the food system globally is agriculture and it is also the most important economic sector with a high level socio-economic relevance for many countries.
This, he said, is with respect to employment generation, nutrition and rural development.
“In view of this, agriculture appears to be the only realistic driver of economic and social development in many countries in the near future.
“Small holder farmers produce more than 80 per cent of the world food production. Ironically, across all countries, people living in rural areas are most exposed to food insecurity owing to limited access to food and financial resources,” he said.
The expert observed that with a population of more than 200 million people, about 80 per cent of Nigerians depend on small scale agriculture for their food need.
He advised on the need to improve agricultural production and rural livelihood activities necessary to boost food supplies and increase income of farming households.
Lawal also advised government at all tiers for improved funding and effective implementation of food security programmes.
“Government should design policy strategy that would encourage technology transfer as well as ensure the use of modern farming techniques by smallholder farmers,” he said.
The agriculturist also urged the government to ensure security of lives and properties through development and peace building policies in handling issues in conflict affected areas